Under The Same Roof
In a sense, all the NPCs with hidden quests were very miserable.
Because before the quest was triggered, even they themselves didn’t know exactly what task they were carrying, and could do nothing but foolishly wait for a lucky player to trigger it. For example, a lonely swordsman who lost his way in the wild could only continue being lost, walking around in a fixed circle, because the system stipulated that he could not leave without permission. So even though the NPC could obviously find his way out, he could only continue to be lost, catching rabbits and gathering fruit to survive in the wilderness. All while cursing in his heart the damn player that had yet to appear.
However, such NPCs with tasks such as being lost were not the most miserable, because as long as players passed by, this strange behavior would certainly be discovered by the players. Triggering the task was simply a matter of time. The most tragic were the hermits living under a cliff, who had to wait for a player to accidentally lose their footing and fall off the cliff, as well as the ones in an opposing situation, who the system arranged to be mixed in a crowd of players disguised as ordinary NPCs. For example, the bookkeeper of the South Maple Town Inn.
But what could be done?
The NPCs’ basic obligation was to carry out tasks and wait for the players, not knowing when they would hit the jackpot.
For example, because of the player who came to the door to help Aunt Qi deliver something, the shopkeeper in the inn also realized that he had his own mother. The second he received the package, the system automatically assigned the NPC to pay the player, so the shopkeeper of this broken inn had to give the player money as the task reward. But speaking of which, that player…
South Maple Town Inn’s bookkeeper thought about the rather reckless guy who came during the day.
The age of the game character was set for each player as 15 to 25 years old, and the details of appearance were taken from the players themselves, allowing for proper adjustment, so each player that appeared in the game wasn’t ugly. And the character chosen by Mo Han was 20 years old, but besides changing the skin tone to be slightly darker, there wasn’t much change in appearance at all. He wore the rough clothes that players had, half-length hair casually tied with a strip of cloth given by the system. He had bright eyes, curved eyebrows, smiling pupils, and the corners of his eyes were slightly hooked, appearing unsmiling but smiling at the same time.
What kind of impression this appearance gave to others purely depended on the person’s temperament. If you over thought things and were calculating, your smile would inevitably be skin-deep, and you would be evaluated as a smiling tiger.1Someone who is outwardly kind but inwardly cruel If you were too clean and feminine, then they became peach blossom eyes. Fortunately Mo Han was as cheerful and generous as his real name,2His real name means cool and refreshing and was the occasional offline activist. Even if he was slandered, he wouldn’t blame others. He was the type of person that held things in and got depressed privately, which made people feel that he had a good temper and was quite reliable. Otherwise he wouldn’t have received the task from Aunt Qi. NPCs that asked the players to send things definitely wouldn’t ask someone that looked fierce or thieving.
The only problem was, when he was level 0…he couldn’t even chase rats.
When you first hear the system say that the task has been triggered, it would be untrue to say that you are not happy. This is like being a person who has accepted reality and decided to wait with an open heart. Hope is immediately delivered, but you are not happy yet. You have found that the person who delivered the hope was too rubbish, and could not help at all, or do anything. You had to continue to wait.
Perhaps the speed of levelling up from this was not too slow, but—
The cold wind poured in from the cracks in the walls and the rickety roof creaked. A few rats squeaked past on the slanted beams. None of them stayed in the inn, climbing up the dilapidated rafters without a single intact tile, and running happily to a nearby house in the early moonlight. The two shopkeepers had finished cleaning up the tables and chairs, and went home. At least their homes were not broken, and wouldn’t leak the rain.
The only thing left in the empty inn was the shopkeeper who couldn’t even afford to light an oil lamp, and the bookkeeper who was still staring at the broken abacus.
Yes, the reason why this inn was so broken was that the boss was too stingy. From his behavior during the day, in addition to the daily wage, not a meal nor a mouthful of water were given to the employees. So our bookkeeper endured for a long time, only to find that the inn did not care about food. He could only starve, because the system did not give him a single coin, and he was not like the two other guys, who received daily wages (Although the boss found a reason to deduct two coins each from their wages). As a fixed identity NPC, the system also restricted him from leaving the inn.
Was it asking him to starve for a month, waiting for the boss to give him money?
Although the advantage of the NPCs life value was that no matter what you did you gained the same two points an hour, you would lose 24 points in a single day. The result of starving was self-evident, but the most debilitating thought was that he did not even know how long he could suffer, since his line of attributes were a question mark, invisible! Should he go to the kitchen to see if he can steal food? Forget it, even the rats did not stay in this broken house, he certainly would not find anything but cold pots, pans, and firewood.
It made no sense that the system wouldn’t give NPCs a way to live, unless it was planned to wait for him to die and then refresh a new bookkeeper.
Was his hidden mission to give the player a few last words related to another task when he was hungry to death?
After the inn closed, and the bookkeeper could finally set that broken abacus side, he walked up the wooden stairs that made a strange creaking sound as if it would collapse as soon as he stepped on it. Mr. Liang listlessly pushed open the only benefit given to him by the system: a room and a bed.
He seemed to have gone to the wrong place.
He silently closed the door of the room, and the appearance of the boss hastily chewing steamed buns lingered in front of him.
A really stingy person was reluctant to eat well. Although the boss did not give the shopkeepers or the accountant a single mouthful of food or water, he himself stayed hungry for a day. Now the steamed buns he had hid in the house had become dry and hard, bad for the teeth to chew. The most critical point was that, as an NPC with no intellectual problems, Mr. Liang was very clear that regarding this so-called stingy shopkeeper, who didn’t even care if the buns were dry or not, it was hard to tell if he was really a miser or not. For non-important NPC, the AI would not bother arranging small details of the virtual personality’s temperament so that they fully fit that identity. So there would be beggars who did not want to beg, and did not want to molest the female landlord…
After feeling that the shopkeeper must have been forced to be stingy and endure the pain of hunger, the bookkeeper felt slightly comforted as he walked into his room.
He had no money to eat and could only starve, but the boss had money and could only suffer along with him.
The rooms on the second floor of the inn were worse than the lobby below.
Of course, this did not include the good ones with no leaking, uncracked ground, and a bed board that wasn’t broken. These middle rooms were reserved for guests (Did they even have any?) while the two most broken rooms were saved by the owner, so the most broken went to Mr. Liang.
This could no longer be called broken; it was simply unsightly!
—Could people even live in this kind of room?!
There was no quilt, let alone pillows or anything. The hard bed was three broken boards put together, and through the cracked floor you could even see the counter on the first floor below. The walls had dense gaps where you could see the next room that had mud paste all over the wall. Standing in the room bathed in moonlight, he wondered what was wrong with the system. It was uncomfortable enough that he had to toss around in this place—the bookkeeper silently closed the door and went downstairs. At least he could be sure that the counter where the broken abacus was lying was more comfortable than the bed in this room.
“Bam bam bam!”
Someone was knocking on the inn door.
Mr. Liang, who had just tested the height of the counter and wondered if he should find a sturdier stool to step on and climb up, was slightly startled. He was worried that the broken door of the inn would fall down completely, leaving him without even a lobby to live in, so he had no choice but to walk over and open the door.
“Hey, hey, even if the steamed bun store and grain store are closed at night, why is the inn closed – uh! Mr. Liang?”
Standing at the door was none other than Mo Han, who was rubbing his head with some embarrassment. “This, it’s really closed? Even the boss isn’t here, and the bookkeeper has to open the door?”
So the players were without common sense?
Liang held back for a while, but finally explained, “Curfew.”
“Exhausted?3the word exhausted and the word curfew are homophones in Chinese, so Mo Han mistakes one for the otherWhat do you mean exhausted, let’s see—uh!” Mo Han suddenly realized, and asked, wide eyed, “Oh, curfew?”
Your sister! Jiuzhou was really cheap, the cheapest! Nighttime was generally the prime time for gaming, and it actually had a curfew! It actually used the curfew setting!
Mo Han majored in Chinese, of course he knew what curfew meant. In ancient times during the first shift, civilians were not allowed to walk on the street. If caught by the night patrol, they would directly be beaten without discussion. Thinking that the night shift was only dedicated to shouting, “The weather is dry, be careful of candle fires”4 This is a saying meant for people to protect against fires caused by candles, the only source of light at night, because ancient weather was dry and many buildings and objects were especially flammable. was a TV show scam. They in fact did the work of patrolling, guarding, supervising, and reporting the time.
The most important thing was the first shift had already started, and the second was in an hour, that was, at 7 P.M. sharp! That was when the daily news broadcast ended! And the last shift was at three in the morning, when otaku would usually head to bed!
Don’t think that getting up at 3:00 a.m. was early; it was said that the capital officials got up at 3:00 a.m. to wait outside the gate to go to court, regardless of whether they were a young man aged 20 to 30, or a senior citizen aged 60 to 70. Unless the emperor was sick, they would go to court…
“…As long as you aren’t caught, the curfew is just a piece of paper.” Mr. Liang said indifferently.
The government was the government, and the Jianghu was the Jianghu. Chivalrous men also broke curfew using their martial arts. Curfew was just one of the things they broke, and also the most insignificant.
Small villages had a lenient curfew, because not many people patrolled during the night. It was easy to avoid them even if you did not know martial arts, as long as you were flexible and lucky. But in the city there were county officials and official agencies stationed, so it was quite strict, and—
“I’m only level 1.”
Mo Han almost forgot that there was an NPC in front of him. He was hit too hard. At present he could only choose to go offline, or stay in this broken inn. Mo Han powerlessly sat on the bench beside him, but because the stool was missing a leg, he fell down with it.
“You really have no way…no way to help me?”
Yes he did, and he was worried that he would die of hunger—thought Mr. Liang silently, but the system did not give him the option to issue a task to the player.
“This guest!” The boss’s loud voice rang out from upstairs, alarmed by the sound of Mo Han falling down, and scurried to run over from the rickety stairs. He smiled as if he owned an inn that was home away from home, with hot water and food and everything.
“There are free rooms upstairs, 20 yuan a night, for other things you need additional money.”
—The other things were a quilt, a pillow, a bedpan, etc.? Mr. Liang couldn’t help but mutter in his heart.
“……” Mo Han’s entire wealth was only twenty-six coins, he tried to squeeze out a smile, so that he did not look so poor, and said, “Boss, I am doing odd jobs just to make ends meet, if you have something, you can let me help, I do not need wages I just need food and housing…uh, for housing, here, just let me stay under the roof for the night.”
The shopkeeper immediately pulled down his face and said unhappily, “Go, go, I have no shortage of people here!”
“Or if you don’t want to give me three meals, even a single meal will do…”
The shopkeeper then took a careful look at Mo Han and said with disdain. “What can you do?”
“I…I, by the way, I can help you catch rats.”
“There are no rats in my inn!”
“Huh?” Impossible, there were no rats even if it was this broken?
Mr. Liang, who was standing on the side, thought silently, no, any rats living here would starve to death…
Then I can also catch other things, such as flies or…” Mo Han racked his brains to think of the wording.
“Oh, in that case!” The shopkeeper was thoughtful.
“Promise me, Boss!”
“En, you can stay. I’ll first hire you for a day, only one meal, and no pay for the work!”
“Okay, okay!” Mo Han nodded his head as if mashing garlic with his chin5Nodding very energetically/frequently.
Mr. Liang, who could no longer tolerate it, turned his head and walked away. That meal would definitely be a dry bun that could knock your teeth out. No, maybe even only half a bun, since the boss wouldn’t give others the same treatment as himself by giving a whole bun.
He heard Mo Han still asking, “So what do I have to do?”
“I do not have rats here, but there are weasels. You go and kill them!”
- 1Someone who is outwardly kind but inwardly cruel
- 2His real name means cool and refreshing
- 3the word exhausted and the word curfew are homophones in Chinese, so Mo Han mistakes one for the other
- 4This is a saying meant for people to protect against fires caused by candles, the only source of light at night, because ancient weather was dry and many buildings and objects were especially flammable.
- 5Nodding very energetically/frequently